I was not a fan of slow cookers, but with three kids, I became a fan.
Sometimes, there’s no other option if you don’t want to serve PB&Js for dinner.
My first slow cooker was a Crock Pot, but although it’s the namesake and presumably inventor of the category, it was a disappointment. Where there once was a plastic handle, is now a wire. Two lids fell apart with normal use—poorly made and disposable.
Before I bought a replacement, I went on Facebook for a little crowd-source wisdom to see if it was worth spending the big bucks for an All-Clad Slow Cooker at more than $150, or one by Cuisinart, which lists for over $180, but is available for around $80.
One friend recommended her Cuisinart, but by far, most Make It Better readers and my friends love their Hamilton Beach models, especially the “Stay and Go,” which lets you lock on the lid for transport. So I went and bought, and spent less than $40.
The outcome? A tentative “better.” The lid does lock as advertised, so if you’re transporting chili to a friend’s house or church dinner, you’ll love this feature. On the “bust” side, the product is as lightweight as my Crock Pot, and seems just as flimsy. It’s “stainless steel,” but that must be in quotes, because it’s just a sprayed silver piece of plastic.
The cooking temperatures are true low and high, which is a complaint some cooks have with the newer slow cookers—they are hotter than the older versions to improve food safety. As long as you fill the crock at least half full of food, you should be fine. The programming is super simple. You’ll be able to set the timer without asking your 13-year old for help.
If your slow cooker lives on your countertop all winter, it might be worth an extra $40 to upgrade to a nice looking model, but if you store it in a cupboard need predictable temperatures, easy programming and portability, then the Hamilton Beach is a “Better.”